> New Mercedes-AMG SL roadster unveiled
> Features two back seats for the first time since 1989
> Two V8 models available from launch
> Plug-in hybrid version will follow
> All-wheel drive and four-wheel steering as standard
> On sale March 2022
The original Mercedes-Benz SL was launched way back in 1954 but you can still see the influence of its design in this latest model with its elongated bonnet, but the new version has a noticeably longer rear end in proportion to the front, which allows for two rear seats.
Because this an AMG model the signature Panamericana grille glistens in chrome and black above a muscular front bumper which features gaping air intakes in front of the wheels, while the strong crease lines down the sides of the car are another nod to SLs of the past.
Beneath that front bumper hides a carbon fibre blade that extends by 40mm once the car reaches 50mph to reduce lift. It works in tandem with another active spoiler at the back. Also at the back lives a hefty diffuser and four squared-off tailpipes, more hallmarks of a seriously powerful car.
An obvious difference between this car and the previous SL is the roof, which is now fabric rather than metal, which Mercedes says has saved 21kg of weight. The roof is opened in 15 seconds flat and houses a heated rear windscreen that folds into the body of the car.
Finally, those flared wheel arches house alloy wheels that range in size from 19 to 21-inches.
The new SL is the latest Mercedes to get the portrait style MBUX 11.9-inch infotainment screen which can be adjusted in angle to suit the driver’s seating position. It’s mated with an equally impressive-looking 12.3-inch digital driver display. If there’s one thing Mercedes leads the way in, it’s interior tech.
Electrically adjustable AMG sports seats come as standard which feature Mercedes’s Airscarf neck warmer to keep the chills at bay when driving with the roof down.
Liberally sprinkled carbon fibre trim, a twin-spoke AMG steering wheel and turbine air vents all add up to a handsome, if a little jazzy, interior, although from the pictures it looks like it could be a bit too minimalist for some people’s taste when it comes to tactile buttons. Thankfully that infotainment screen so big it should be easy to control on the move.
This is the first SL model to feature two back seats since the R129 generation which was launched way back in 1989, which means it again rivals cars like the Porsche 911 in terms of practicality. We use that word loosely though, as those seats aren’t going to be much good to anyone over the age of 10.
Mercedes claims they will be comfortable for passengers up to 5ft tall, but we’re doubtful. Just as in cars like the 911 or the Ferrari Portofino, the rear seats will make more sense as an extra storage bay.
And that’s just as well because boot space has shrunk compared to the last generation. With the roof up you get 240 litres of room, but when folded that shrinks to measly 213 litres. Enough for a couple of weekend bags, but not much else.
At launch customers will be limited to a choice of two 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engines. The entry SL 55 is good for 476hp and 700Nm of torque, which is enough to propel the car from 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds and onto a top speed of 183mph.
Upgrading to the SL 63 sees power increase to 585hp and 800Nm of torque, and the 0-62mph dash reduced to 3.6-seconds, which is equal to the Porsche 911 Carrera 4S.
Mercedes has already confirmed a hybrid model is in the pipeline, which could turn the power up to more than 800hp via electric assistance. We’ve seen Merc’s plug-in hybrid tech already in the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door 63 S E-Performance (trips of the tongue, doesn’t it), and it’s mightily impressive.
A nine-speed automatic gearbox comes as standard as do five driving modes: Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual.
Another key thing to note about new SL is the fact it comes in all-wheel drive form only, and all models feature four-wheel steering as standard, which improves slow speed manoeuvrability as well as high speed stability when changing direction.
You will be able to buy your new Mercedes-AMG SL from March 2022 onwards. Prices are yet to be announced but we expect them to start around the £110,000 mark.